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NEWS|September 30 2020

September Newsletter: Supporting an Inclusive Recovery

Two lanes of Olive Way were restored to their original alignment in September 2020. 
The photo on the left shows the temporarily shifted Olive Way, and the photo on the right depicts the realignment of the two lanes.

Projects such as the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition play a crucial role in helping those disproportionately affected by economic adversity to participate in the pandemic recovery. 

The Addition project is expected to hire as many as 6,000 union construction workers, including 900 apprentices, over its three-plus-year construction period. As of June 2020, minorities compose 30% of the project workforce, and 24% of workers are “priority hires” from economically distressed ZIP codes. These jobs provide more than just pay and benefits during the project. They have the potential to build a lifetime of security for families through skill development. 

The Addition project provides an important path to success for organizations such as What’s Next Washington and ANEW, which work with at-risk populations – including people with conviction histories – to break down barriers to employment. Having the training and experience to build a career are key to long-term economic stability. 

Data show that people with conviction histories are more likely to be people of color and people experiencing poverty. The unemployment rate for these Americans was 27 percent during a pre-COVID labor shortage. During the last economic recession, it was 60 percent. 

Supporting Employers

What’s Next Washington is an organization of formerly incarcerated individuals and allies focused on helping employers achieve their diversity, equity and inclusion goals while helping people with conviction histories advance their careers and achieve long-term economic stability. This directly impacts the ability to build generational wealth within communities of color. 

The Addition is partnering with What’s Next Washington and a Stanford University scientist to gather data over six months on the project to compare job performance of workers with conviction histories and those without. The resulting insights will help identify causes of problems – such as chronic tardiness – that may damage productivity, and enable What’s Next Washington to assist with solutions. 

“Longer term, we hope the data will lead companies to change policies that prevent formerly incarcerated talent from working at their construction sites and spur the hiring of people with conviction histories across industries,” said What’s Next Washington executive director Susan Mason. “We need an employer the size of the Addition project to gather this data.” 

Supporting Workers 

ANEW’s pre-apprenticeship program provides training, support, accountability and connections that enable individuals – many of them of color and/or emerging from prison or detention – to pursue careers in the building trades. 

ANEW’s partnership with the Addition channels apprentices into roles on the project as carpenters, landscapers, electricians, cement masons, and more. Two women from a recent cohort joined the Addition project after graduation this past August, and another set of apprentice candidates will graduate in November. 

General contractors Clark Construction Group and Lease Crutcher Lewis, the joint venture partners working on the Addition project, both believe solutions like these are important to build a diverse workforce. In addition to implementing the programs, both companies helped to fund the What’s Next Washington study and initiated the partnership with ANEW. Find more information about these programs on our website.


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